How it all Began, Part III

Managing the information being thrown at you with this sort of diagnosis is such an overwhelming task. Managing information of this caliber, in real time, is almost impossible. During the biopsy, Dr. C, the radiologist, made a comment, to which I responded “so even if it’s breast cancer, it could be isolated in my ducts, right?” Dr. C paused, and said “you know you have a mass, right?” I hadn’t really even processed what that meant, and I kept replaying that exchange in my head, over and over. I have a mass. Something is growing in my breast tissue that has expanded out of the ducts. There is a mass in my breast. This is what people are frightened of when they feel something in their breast.

I bled quite a bit at the conclusion of the biopsy. The tech kept commenting that she couldn’t get my breast to stop bleeding, but finally got things under control sufficient for steri-strips and a dressing. I was dizzy and drained; I hadn’t eaten anything since about 7:45 that morning, but couldn’t even process the thought of food. Woozily, I got dressed. I felt like I was walking through a fog as I made my way out to the waiting room, and Christian and I made our way down to to meet with the breast surgeon. We waited quite some time to see Dr. A, the breast surgeon. The waiting room was fairly quiet, but for two older women who sat quietly until they were taken in for their appointments. Christian and I tried comprehend what had happened that day. At one point, one of the women came out and began sobbing at the front desk. I ached for her, and wondered if that was in my future, too.

At long last, we were taken back to a room, a nurse took my vitals, and we met briefly with the Nurse Practitioner, J, who was very warm and understanding. Finally, we sat down with Dr. A and began discussing my options. Since we did not have a pathology report yet, all of our discussions were in hypotheticals, but as K, our nurse, told us earlier, the surgeons generally don’t clear their schedules to meet with just anyone. While the VIP treatment all day had been impressive, I couldn’t help but wish I wasn’t in the position to receive it. We discussed the surgical protocols, further testing, what different types of cancer I might have, and who would play a role in my treatment plan. By the end of the meeting, it was nearly 7 pm.

Right now, I have two masses in my right breast. One is approximately 3.2 cm and the other is approximately 1.5 cm. I don’t have an official diagnosis yet, but there is about a 95-98% likelihood of breast cancer, based on the mammogram results. The recommended course of treatment is genetic testing, some follow-up scans to make sure that the cancer has not spread outside of my right breast, and then a right breast mastectomy within the next month. I will have the results, and likely an official cancer diagnosis, on Tuesday, and then meet again with the surgeon and with an oncologist.

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